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Dog stars


Randy Metcalf
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Lala, a three and a half year old German Shepard, poses for the cameras Wednesday at the premiere of "Partners for Life: A Service Dog's Tale." Lala provides her owner, Rita Givens, with mobility assistance in her everyday tasks.

By Georgia Fildes
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 21, 2000
Talk about this story

From taking laundry out of the dryer and turning off lights to warn people of dangers, guide dogs are crucial to some people with disabilities.

Informing the public about what service dogs can do for people with disabilities is the point of a video produced by the University of Arizona College of Agriculture Diversity Committee.

"This whole project has been one of the most rewarding and successful projects," said Shirley O'Brien, chairwoman of the diversity committee and the associate director of the College of Agriculture's cooperative extension.

The video - which allows businesses and other people to become familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act - premiered to about 50 people Wednesday at the "Swede" Johnson Building, 1111 N. Cherry Ave.

"It went really well," O'Brien said.

"Partners for Life: A Service Dog's Tale" was created to raise awareness about the places where service dogs are allowed, O'Brien said.

The idea for the video came when one of the members of the committee and her service dog were being kicked out of businesses and motels.

Susan Cordell - who has lost hearing in both ears - trained her service dog, Molly, to hear the alarm clock, knocks at the door and the fire alarm in motels, O'Brien said.

Cordell, a pesticide coordinator for the College of Agriculture, was being kicked out of motels and businesses, O'Brien said.

The Diversity Committee wanted to educate these places about service dogs because of the problems that Cordell had encountered, she said.

"It really has a lot of good information in it and a lot of good information for the public," O'Brien said.

O'Brien has a positive outlook for the video.

"I really think it will be a success," she added.

The diversity committee sold 23 copies of the video after the premier, O'Brien said. The committee has 300 copies of the video.

The video is a seven-and-a-half minute piece that provides information about the rights of individuals with disabilities and characteristics of service dogs, O'Brien said. It is an educational video as seen through a service dog's point of view.

Cordell and Molly are in the video along with other partners, O'Brien said.

"The people in the video loved to see themselves in it, and they were thrilled with the way that it turned out," O'Brien said.

Some grocery stores and chain stores will be using the video for training, O'Brien said. She added that hotels and other services will be also buying the video.

One inconvenience is that sometimes neither the person or the service dog fit the typical appearance of a disabled person with a service animal, O'Brien said.

Service dogs range from the typical golden retriever to a papillon or a multi-breed service dog like Molly, she said.

Service dogs can assist people with disabilities like arthritis, cerebral palsy and several others.

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